“The Terrible, Obnoxious, Hard-To-Define, Very Bleh Day with a Drive-on Lift”
A “Children’s Story”
Author’s Note: A drive-on lift (not pictured anywhere in this story) refers to a portable home car lift that engages the wheels, not the frames. This is not to be confused with wheel-engaging four-post lifts. Drive-on home lifts severely limit functionality, as you’ll see below, and are advertised mainly to “hobbyists.”
I remember my very first home car lift. I was so excited to use it that I set it up the night before, just so I wouldn’t waste any time. It was going to be a GREAT day.
I fell asleep with an oily rag in my hand, and woke up with oil in my hair. When I got out of bed, I had a sinking feeling it was going to be a terrible, obnoxious, hard-to-define, very bleh day with my new entry-level drive-on lift.
When I made it down to my garage to pull my car into the driveway, it was already really hot out. My neighbor had a Corvette that was lifted with his QuickJack portable car lift. It probably took him less than two minutes to set up both his lift and his car. With QuickJack’s push-button controls, he was doing a fraction of the work I was about to do.
But I had my drive-on lift ready to go, and by the time I was done pulling out the large assembly, driving my car onto the ramps, lugging out my floor jack and jacking up the car by the lift’s jack point, I was really sweaty. It was already looking like a terrible, obnoxious, hard-to-define, very bleh day with my drive-on lift.
My neighbor was changing his oil and brake pads, and rotating his tires, just like me. I lay across my creeper, slid under the car and drained my oil. So far it was all going okay. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a very bleh day after all! Once my oil was changed, I stood for a second looking at my car. My insides screamed, “HOW CAN I DO A TIRE ROTATION IF THE WHEELS AREN’T EVEN IN THE AIR?” My neighbor was already wrenching off his lug nuts on his second rear tire. I was going to have to pull out my jack stands and jack my car up.
What’s the point of a drive-on lift if I have to use jacks stands anyways? My neighbor’s QuickJack was frame-engaging, so his wheels were off the ground from the start, and he looked like he was having a much easier time than me. Keep in mind, I had to pay several hundred dollars extra to get a pair of bridge trays with my lift, so I could put a bottle jack bottle (which set me back another 50 bucks, folks) between the frames and place jack stands. “Yippee.”
Now my car was on stands, but it was also up on a lift, which I had to admit looked ridiculous since stands alone would have done the same thing and saved me a lot of time, money and effort. At that moment, I truly regretted buying this thing and suffering through this terrible, obnoxious, hard-to-define, very bleh day with my drive-on car lift. In total, I had to use a floor jack, a bottle jack and four jack stands. I couldn’t help but wonder why I didn’t just use jacks and stands on the concrete of my driveway. That would have made it just as easy to change my oil and rotate my tires. On the other hand, QuickJack lifted and locked my neighbor’s Corvette in place in about thirty seconds with the push of a button.
I looked over and could see my neighbor was really struggling with his brakes. He was practically standing on his wrench, but his QuickJack frames didn’t budge. The makers of my drive-on lift said that hydraulic, frame-engaging lifts tend to tilt and become unsafe. Their drive-on lift was advertised as a much safer and simpler solution. From what I could see, he was exceptionally safe with QuickJack. AND he was having an easier time.
When it comes to wheel service, my drive-on lift is really nothing but a glorified ramp. Long story short, I rotated my tires and packed it in. I didn’t even feel like doing my brakes. Lowering the car off the stands took enough time as it was, and I still had to store all the tools and equipment I’d been using. Then I had to lower the lift, disassemble the ramps, find a place to store all the bulky parts, etc. etc.
My little story is funny, because all I really set out to do was share a simple story about my terrible, obnoxious, hard-to-define, very bleh day with a drive-on car lift. I think I achieved something else altogether… Oh well!